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The Winter's Tale: Tragedy in Acts 1-3.

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Introduction

THE WINTER'S TALE: Tragedy in Acts 1-3 THE WINTER'S TALE: Tragedy in Acts 1-3 Gregory Geismar Throughout Acts 1-3 in 'The Winter's Tale' Shakespeare uses language and style, which enables the reader to appreciate the imagery, which is being created. Part of this imagery is the idea of tragedy, which features very prominently in, Acts one through to three. In Act 1 the reader is very much familiarising one's self with the characters and their personalities. However even at this early point in the play the main themes are developing quite quickly. In Act 1 scene 2 Leontes is becoming jealous of the relationship between Hermione and Polixenes, suspecting their every action: 'Art thou my boy?' Here Leontes is even questioning whether Mamilius is his own son, this is already showing signs that Leontes mere thoughts of a relationship between his wife and best friend involve question marks of whether Mamilius really is his own son. In Leontes' eyes Hermione and Polixenes seem so friendly that he suspects they have made love. His suspicion is so strong that his heart races: 'I have tremor crodis on me,' so even at this early stage of Leontes' jealousy there is much evidence that Leontes ...read more.

Middle

Camillo is in a very difficult position, if he does not do it then Leontes will be mad at him however if he does then he faces humiliation if found out by others. Polixenes reaction to being told by Camillo that he is supposed to be having an affair, appals him, 'O then my best...the Best! Polixenes reaction to this accusation convinces us even further that he is an innocent man and portrays Leontes as more the villain. In Act 2 when Leontes hears of Camillo's and Polixeness escape from Sicilia, he is further convinced of Hermione's guilt, which leads to her public humiliation and imprisonment. This is ironic because in Act 1 Leontes assures Camillo that he will not hurt Hermione's reputation if Polixenes is murdered. One can see that Leontes paranoia is at an extreme level, with his tone of voice constantly changing from persuasive to angry. This is in keeping with his irrational behaviour. Act 2 scene 1 started off in a light-hearted vein with gentle joking between Hermione and Mamilius. This provides mild comic relief to the tense and serious end of the previous scene. ...read more.

Conclusion

This further impairs his judgement and feeds his crazy behaviour. Up to now one feels that Leontes actions have been the most tragic part of the play, however in Act 3 scene 2 Hermione dominates proceedings. The fact that Hermione has to get up in front of commoners, in the open, in rags and stand trial for a crime that she did not commit is very sad, this is magnified in her speech, 'My third...out to murder.' Her baby has been taken away from her and her reputation damaged. Hermione says how she is not afraid to die because everything she values has been taken away from her, 'Tell me what blessings...die.' She has nothing left to live for. Shakespeare uses the death of Mamilius as a very clever dramatic device to show the destructive power of jealousy. Mamilius illness and death are evidence of the disorder that the kingdom has been in since the onset of Leonte's jealousy. Overall in these three acts, tragic devices have been in abundance. They have been evident in Leontes failure to recognise the truth, the fact that an innocent Queen was forced to stand trial in front of masses and the death of a guiltless boy, free from all suspicion, but yet he suffers at the hands of mistrust and jealousy. ...read more.

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